After a two-week trial, Judge Bernard Friedman is looking at arguments presented by state officials and two women who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2004 voter-approved ban of same-sex marriage in Michigan, and the state’s adoption laws.
Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer of suburban Detroit hope the judge overturns the ban so they can jointly adopt the three children with special needs that they are raising. Currently, Michigan law doesn’t allow the couple to jointly adopt the children because they’re not married — and they can’t legally marry in Michigan.
As some county clerks prepare for the possibility of issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Ottawa County Clerk Dan Krueger said he is waiting to see what happens with the judge’s ruling. He said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette sent a letter informing the state’s county clerks that there would be an appeal in the event the judge overturns the ban.
“We’re not anticipating anything eminent when that decision comes around,” Krueger said.
Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters did not return calls seeking comment about what the judge’s ruling would mean for that county’s residents.
Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said Schuette sent the letter after several clerks asked for guidance when the federal judge was expected to rule on the ban before deciding to take the case to trial.
Yearout said nothing would legally change if the judge overturns the ban and places a stay on the decision. She said Section 25 of the state’s Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
“The attorney general made it clear he will be defending the Constitution,” Yearout said.
Greg Varnum, director of external relations for Equality Michigan, said his organization is preparing for the possibility that there will be a window of time when same-sex marriages could occur.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.